Jan 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House ramps up COVID measures ahead of return

The United States Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

The House of Representatives is instituting new coronavirus precautions as members prepare to return from the holiday recess next week.

Why it matters: Capitol physician Brian P. Monahan sent an alert to offices on Monday warning that the Capitol test center's positivity rate has spiked from 1% to 13% due to the spread of Omicron.

  • In addition to telling offices to "adopt a maximal telework posture," Monahan said staff should wear KN95 masks, rather than cloth or surgical masks, when in crowded spaces or indoors with others.

What they're saying: "I have heard from many Members expressing concerns about the surge in COVID-19 cases relating to the highly infectious Omicron variant," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a letter to members on Friday.

  • Hoyer announced the House will "lengthen voting times and limit the number of votes taken on the Floor" in an effort to reduce the number of members in the chamber at any given time.
  • The majority leader also urged members to wear KN95 masks and "refrain from congregating" on the floor. Masks are mandated in the chamber.
  • "I encourage you to continue taking steps in your offices to promote the safety of all who work for the House and those visiting for official business," Hoyer added.

The Capitol's chief administrative officer (CAO) simultaneously announced that House offices will start receiving a monthly allotment of KN95 masks to adhere with recommendations from the CDC and the Capitol physician.

  • The KN95s will replace a previous allotment of surgical masks, the CAO said.
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